Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Seattle, Washington
Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers
While I am not familiar with your amps, I will say that more power is usually needed than is assumed, since the accoustic power of concert/orchestras is pretty high and that is what you are trying to imitate. Even horn loaded speakers need more than the few watts mentioned in order to produce a rich, undistorted sound (notice I did not mention "loud").
Generally, so-called "inefficient" speakers are smoother - the "inefficiency" is caused by smoothing out the peaks, which reduces the total volume. So, generally, avoid "efficient" speakers. Horn loaded speakers tend to be peaky and have a tonal quality which might become irritating over time, though some people do swear by them.
The prevalence of small woofered speakers in tower configurations tends to result in fairly poor bass response, making a subwoofer necessary for a true balanced sound, as the so-called subwoofers in these systems are actually more 'woofer' than subwoofer, if you check the specs. They merely provide the bass that is needed and should actually be called "woofer modules". This is often sufficient for music listening. Just listen carefully and choose speakers that have clean bass, balanced and clear midrange, and with tweeters that can provide a sweet, "airy" sound with cymballs and triangles of orchestras. You won't hear much of the lower register of pipe organs, but you will be within the frequency range of most music. A great help is to have the front, center, and surround speakers identical. This is more than a theory, it does sound better, even though few manufacturers, other than the higher priced ones, admit this.
However, if you want to really be moved while watching movies, or a pipe organ, you need a true subwoofer, since the sound effects often are lower frequency than music
This means subwoofers that really do go below 40 Hz with authority and low distortion.
These are not cheap. But the drama of listening to, say, the cannons below decks of "Master and Commander", is very impressive and can be quite realistic!! Also, the sound is smoother and more "relaxed", a lot more pleasurable than systems that are working hard to produce the sound necessary, but fail, producing a constricted sound with distortion products.
If you have the money, more than one subwoofer will provide better sound. Even one subwoofer per channel. The problem with very low frequencies, those below about 50 Hz, is the pattern of waves and nulls, kind of like dropping a stone in a pond except you can only hear them. So, placement of a single subwoofer is important. With more than one subwoofer, you get an improvement somewhat like dropping more than one stone at once into a pond - the wave patterns become diffused, the more subwoofers, the more diffused the waves, having the effect of smoothing out the low frequencies. A few speaker companies, such as Genesys, address this problem by having subwoofers enclosed within each speaker.
So, I would look for speakers with woofers that actually "woof", and then use at least one true subwoofer, preferably two, for the very low sounds. I prefer at least 12" speakers in subwoofers, with sufficient power to drive them properly. I have two 18" and one 15" (for rear) subwoofers. The sound effects of movies sound better in my home than in the theaters, and can be genuinely startling in realism.
So, enjoy your search. You evidently have a good start with amps of sufficient power, so that makes your choice actually broader than if you had less power. Too many try to "tailor" power to speakers and rooms, as they did in the bad old days of hifi when 150 watts total was considered more than enough, which proved to be a gross fallacy. There really is no such thing as "too much" power, as long as there is a volume control. A lot of power simply means a richer sound with reserve for peaks, allowing very low distortion and getter protection from tweeters, which are very vulnerable to distortion. Most people are unaware that a low powered system is a lot more likely to blow a tweeter with distortion products than an extremely high powered system producing music with very low distortion. This is a proven fact.
Of course, one must temper power with practicality and affordability.
Dave Ladely in Seattle